Can massaging stretch marks truly make a difference in the appearance of your skin? Sure, we’ve all heard about the many treatments and remedies, from various lotions to oils to preventing creams, but might the answer be much simpler than that?
Many therapists insist on the powers of massage to prevent stretch marks if done correctly, and in this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at this claim, as well as some of the best products to enhance your massage experience.
Can Massaging Prevent Stretch Marks Altogether?
Stretch marks are a widespread issue that, unfortunately, affects 75% of pregnant women, as well as many athletes and bodybuilders. These are the two categories in which we can talk about actual stretch mark prevention, as they’re aware when the rapid weight change is going to happen.
And while massage does help your skin a great deal – more on that in a second – it can’t prevent the appearance of stretch marks altogether. This is because stretch marks are primarily to do with your genetic code and with the way your body is built.
But massaging can help hydrate the skin and make it more elastic, which might make the stretch marks, when they do come, appear less severe.
Can Massaging Reduce Stretch Marks?
Fortunately, yes, regular massaging can improve the appearance and the feel of your skin.
There are several benefits of massaging your skin regularly, all beneficial during pregnancy, as well:
- Massage enhances the circulation of the blood. Better circulation, in turn, promotes new tissue growth and a faster cell turnover;
- Regular massage has the benefit of keeping skin supple and strong;
- It improves the tone of the skin;
- Massage traditionally is done using some type of oil or lotion (we’ll talk more on this later on). This moisturizing liquid is rubbed into the pores and absorbed by the skin, which becomes more hydrated. Since stretch marks are a type of scarring that occurs due to a general lack of moisture, you can see how this can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Massaging works particularly well in the treatment of fresh stretch marks. These can be red, pink, purple or even brown or black in appearance, which might seem more ‘severe’, but is in fact, better for you.
At this stage, your skin is still trying to heal from the unexpected stretching, and regular massage promotes healthy blood flow and tissue growth, which can help regenerate the affected skin area.
What are the Different Massaging Techniques Available for Stretch Marks?
The first thing you want to decide on is whether you’re going to employ the services of a professional, or get a friend or spouse to do it, or even do a self-massage. Naturally, going to a licensed massage therapist, though costlier, is recommended since we are talking about someone who’s been specifically trained to address your skin’s complaints and potential issues.
Your Best Bet would be a Hands-on Massage
This way, the person massaging you can adjust the intensity to your specific needs. The warmth of their palms rubbing your skin will help open the pores and make them more susceptible to absorbing the massaging lotion or essential oils that are being used, which can, in turn, nurture your skin.
Lymphatic drainage and aromatherapy would also make worthwhile options, though the former would be best left to professionals.
Don’t Overlook the Powers of Dry-brushing
While dry-brushing should be part of anyone’s self-care routine and be done on a regular basis, it’s extra important that you use it when trying to treat away stretch marks.
How does Dry-brushing work?
Dry Brushing is, as its’ name suggests, the almost mechanical action of brushing your skin using a dry brush. It’s been gathering popularity in recent years, thanks to its hoard of benefits. First of all, dry brushing stimulated the blood flow, which is, as we’ve already seen, exactly what we’re looking for when it comes to healing stretch marks.
Secondly, dry brushing is an effective exfoliation method. By unclogging the pores and getting rid of dead skin cells dry brushing allows new, healthy skin layers to shine through. This can significantly alleviate the appearance of your stretch marks.
Lastly, it also stimulates the lymphatic vessels and flow, which encourages the body to detoxify and heal itself naturally.
While dry brushing isn’t, in itself, a “massage technique”, it’s highly recommended that you do it before the massage itself, for better flow and to open up the pores. Remember, the less clogged your skin is, the more ready it will be to take in all that yummy hydration.
Give Cupping a Try!
Cupping is a traditional form of therapy, where suction is created on the skin, typically by placing a cup and squeezing. It’s frequently combined with hydrating oils to enhance the experience.
Cupping does wonders in stimulating the flow of the blood and firming up saggy areas (frequently the case with stretch marks).
Cupping can also improve the appearance of fine lines and remove edema (excess fluid in the body), thus reducing the appearance of the scars. However, it’s not generally recognized as a long-term solution.
Surely, if done over time, like regular massage, it can improve circulation and promote the growth of new, healthy tissue, but don’t confuse the temporary ‘better-looking skin’ that cupping leaves behind with actual, long-lasting results.
Cupping, like any form of therapy, needs to be practiced regularly for you to truly see a difference.
How should You Massage the Stretch Marks Away Exactly?
Great, so you’ve decided to give massage a try, to get rid of those pesky stretch marks. But how to go about it?
First of all, pay attention to what you put on your skin. You will need a lotion or body oil to moisturize the skin properly, so make sure you purchase one with as few dangerous chemicals as possible.
Try to stay away from products containing parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and other such substances.
Look for products containing shea or cocoa butter, coconut, or almond oil, as these all have excellent soothing and moisturizing properties.
A product containing hyaluronic acid would also be a plus, as it promotes skin regeneration and collagen production.
If the massage is being done by a non-professional, keep these suggestions in mind:
- Focus on rubbing, rather than pressing down on the skin. We are dealing with damaged skin that doesn’t need the extra pressure;
- Go in small, but firm, circular motions until you’ve covered the entire affected area;
- Don’t rush through it, and don’t be too rough on the skin – enjoy this time and try to feel the blood flowing through the area you’re massaging.
Our Reviews – Best Massage Oils and Lotions for Stretch Marks
As promised, we will now offer you some quick, honest reviews about the best massage creams for preventing (or treating) stretch marks.
1. Palmer’s Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks
Palmer’s has a long history as one of the best moisturizing products out there. It’s not only effective but very decently priced (not to mention it smells amazing).
What We Love:
- Free of parabens, phthalates and mineral oils;
- Has Cocoa Butter, Argan Oil, Shea Butter, Elastin and Collagen – basically everything we could want, really;
- Has a long-lasting effect once applied to the skin and is thoroughly moisturizing.
Palmer’s seems to be the best and most healthy choice when deciding on your massage lotion. Thanks to the cocoa and shea butter, it will leave your skin feeling protected and pampered long after the massage is over and won’t just ‘disappear’ in 5 minutes, as many lotions tend to.
Cocoa Butter & Shea Butter, Vitamin E, Lutein, Argan Oil, Almond Oil, Coconut Oil
2. Lush Massage Bar for Stretch Marks
Lush’s Massage Bar has been hailed as a ‘miracle cure’ for stretch marks and scars alike – but does it do all it promises to?
What We Love:
- Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Orange, Neroli and Lavender Oils – natural ingredients;
- Pleasant, citrus-y scent, not too strong, even for pregnancy;
- Easy to use;
- Absorbs really well into the skin.
As far as we can tell, yes, Lush Massage Bar is another excellent option. Indeed, its’ only downside seems to be the slightly greasy feeling it leaves on the hands, though in all fairness, that can be said of all oils and lotions.
Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Shea Butter, Organic Neroli Oil, Organic Sweet Orange Oil, Organic Lavender Oil,
3. Weleda Pregnancy Body Oil for Stretch Marks
Definitely a pricier option than the previous two, but Weleda Body Oil also comes with seemingly excellent reviews.
What We Love:
- Free of phthalates and parabens;
- Contains Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, and Arnica Extract – all really soothing and known for their soothing properties (particularly the Arnica);
- Discreet, herbal scent;
- Absorbs well and fast into the skin and seems to firm up the skin considerably.
Overall, Weleda seems to be an excellent choice, particularly if you’re looking for an oil, rather than a lotion, as it can be more pleasant during a massage – for some. It can also aid in the heating (and thus the opening of the skin). The Arnica Extract is a welcome surprise that should make a difference in your scarred skin.
Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil, Triticum Vulgare Germ Oil , Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil, Arnica Montana Flower Extract
4. Pure Life Science Anti Stretch Marks Massage Oil
Firms. Smooths. Tones. This Pure Life Massage Oil seems to do it all.
What We Love:
- All-Natural Ingredients – the Grape Seed Oil within have a mildly astringent effect, and the Grapefruit stimulates the drainage of the lymphatic system;
- Free of parabens and sulfates;
- Many reports noticing a tightening of the skin.
The only con argument seems to be that it’s a little greasy and takes a little while to absorb. We don’t know whether or not it penetrates the skin six times better than regular massage oils, but we think it’s worth a try.
Grape Seed Oil, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Grapefruit
5. Mom & World Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks
Mom&World is one of those brands that inspires confidence to any potential buyer.
What We Love:
- Free of dangerous chemicals;
- Great ingredients – we particularly appreciate the hydrolyzed collagen protein, the hyaluronic acid (great for firming up and moisturizing), and the Aloe Vera Gel (very soothing and hydrating).
This Mom & World Lotion also comes with many excellent reviews and doesn’t seem to have any notable downside, which leads us to believe it’s an excellent (really healthy) choice for massaging and for everyday use as well.
Olivates, Kokum, Shea Butter, Organic Aloe Vera Gel
6. Nivea Q10 Plus Firming Body Oil
Nivea is a name synonymous with a good product, and the Q10-Coenzyme (excellent for encouraging skin cell regeneration and firming) only adds to Nivea’s reputation.
What We Love:
- Avocado and Macadamia Nut Oil, both great for hydration;
- Might help reduce the redness of stretch marks.
There are a few things we don’t like about this one, such as the relatively high price and the chemical-packed ingredient list. Still, taking into account Nivea’s long-lasting reputation and the many good ingredients, we’re giving this one a passing grade, as well.
Q10, Avocado Oil